“Jammy Smears” by Ivor Cutler - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1976Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

The idiosyncratic wonder that is Ivor Cutler delivered his third and final album for Virgin in September ’76 and for the third time there are several tracks by his regular kindred spirit, the ever-intriguing Phyllis King, the best of which, “The Wasted Call”, has the honour of closing the album, oddly and splendidly I might add. Between them there are 14 songs, 10 poems and 7 stories. The album is fairly unique in the Cutler story so far in that the piano is given much more prominence than usual, being the instrument of choice for the first half, before the trademark harmonium makes a welcome return in the second half. The Virgin years go down in history as the glory period which introduced the classic tales from a Scotch sitting room series. As with the preceding two LPs, there are two additions to the series here, although in true Ivor fashion he decides to label them “Life In A Scotch Sitting Room, Vol. 2, Ep. 11” and “Life In A Scotch Sitting Room, Vol. 2, Ep. 6”, seemingly for no other reason than to muddle our minds in line with his. Episode 11, the story of the cooped-up family out for walk, is a hoot at every turn. “we set off in a straggly line, hugging the wall to escape the worst of the effects of the fresh air”. Once in the country, the urbanites marvel at the Thistles and the patches of grass that surround them. And then – a fine picnic of square sliced bread and margarine. What an ideal day out.

Later, in Episode 6, Grandpa educates the children with the knowledge that “Scotland gets its brains from the herring”. His fishing catch of the day is deep fried in porridge batter for tea: “After supper, assuming the herring to have worked, we were asked questions. In Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, we had to know the principle parts of verbs. In geography, the five main glove manufacturing towns in the Midlands. And in history, the development of Glasgow's sewage system. There's nothing quite like a Scotch education. One is left with an irreparable debt. My head is full of irregular verbs still.” There aren’t many greater mavericks than Ivor Cutler – but Grandpa Cutler sounds like a candidate! For my tastes, it’s these whacky tales which have the greatest appeal – “The Surly Buddy”, a surreal tale about the cheerless hardship of miners from the valleys, and ”Big Jim”, an hilarious story in which Ivor stars as if struck by aspergers, devoid of empathy before a drowning man, are another two classics. Best of the songs is “A Wooden Tree”, an improbable tale about a pretty tree which invokes impromptu singing amongst all who gather around it. Unfortunately, there is no happy ending, but everyone makes the best of it: “along came an artist with paint on his brush, he painted the tree, and now it looks horrible, but we keep on singing because we are optimists”. Mr. Cutler, you have spoiled us with riches once again.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [00:50] 7.3.png Ivor Cutler - Bicarbonate Of Chicken (Ivor Cutler) Avant-Garde
A2 [00:22] 5.6.png Phyllis April King - Filcombe Cottage, Dorset (Phyllis King) Poetry
A3 [02:24] 7.0.png Ivor Cutler - Squeeze Bees (Ivor Cutler) Avant-Garde
A4 [00:30] 7.7.png Ivor Cutler - The Turn (Ivor Cutler) Storytelling
A5 [03:54] 10.0.png Ivor Cutler - Life In A Scotch Sitting Room, Vol. 2, Ep. 11 (Ivor Cutler) Storytelling
A6 [00:25] 5.5.png Phyllis April King - A Linnet (Phyllis King) Poetry
A7 [00:44] 6.8.png Ivor Cutler - Jumping And Pecking (Ivor Cutler) Avant-Garde
A8 [00:46] 6.7.png Ivor Cutler - The Other Half (Ivor Cutler) Storytelling
A9 [02:10] 7.4.png Ivor Cutler - Beautiful Cosmos (Ivor Cutler) Avant-Garde
A10 [00:40] 6.0.png Ivor Cutler - The Path (Ivor Cutler) Poetry
A11 [01:02] 5.7.png Ivor Cutler - Barabadabada (Ivor Cutler) Avant-Garde
A12 [03:01] 8.8.png Ivor Cutler - Big Jim (Ivor Cutler) Storytelling
A13 [01:29] 5.8.png Ivor Cutler - In The Chestnut Tree (Ivor Cutler) Avant-Garde
A14 [01:02] 7.6.png Phyllis April King - Dust (Phyllis King) Poetry
A15 [02:03] 6.6.png Ivor Cutler - Rubber Toy (Ivor Cutler) Avant-Garde
A16 [00:08] 6.0.png Ivor Cutler - Fistyman (Ivor Cutler) Avant-Garde
B1 [00:12] 6.2.png Ivor Cutler - Unepected Join (Ivor Cutler) Poetry
B2 [02:13] 9.8.png Ivor Cutler - A Wooden Tree (Ivor Cutler) Avant-Garde
B3 [00:38] 7.2.png Ivor Cutler - When I Stand On An Open Cart (Ivor Cutler) Poetry
B4 [01:26] 6.1.png Ivor Cutler - High Is The Wind (Ivor Cutler) Avant-Garde
B5 [04:16] 9.1.png Ivor Cutler - The Surly Buddy (Ivor Cutler) Storytelling
B6 [00:41] 6.3.png Ivor Cutler - Pearlywinged Fly (Ivor Cutler) Avant-Garde
B7 [00:40] 5.4.png Ivor Cutler - Garden Path At Filcombe (Ivor Cutler) Poetry
B8 [01:34] 6.8.png Ivor Cutler - Paddington Town (Ivor Cutler) Avant-Garde
B9 [00:18] 5.9.png Phyllis April King - Cage Of Small Birds (Phyllis King) Poetry
B10 [03:09] 9.6.png Ivor Cutler - Life In A Scotch Sitting Room, Vol. 2, Ep. 6 (Ivor Cutler) Storytelling
B11 [00:23] 6.5.png Ivor Cutler - Irk (Ivor Cutler) Poetry
B12 [01:02] 6.6.png Ivor Cutler - Lemon Flower (Ivor Cutler) Avant-Garde
B13 [00:47] 6.4.png Phyllis April King - Red Admiral (Phyllis King) Poetry
B14 [02:08] 7.0.png Ivor Cutler - Everybody Got (Ivor Cutler) Avant-Garde
B15 [04:26] 8.9.png Phyllis April King - The Wasted Call (Phyllis King) Storytelling

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